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'We don’t have huge money to throw around but there's still good value out there'

New Bohemian manager Keith Long says he didn’t have to be asked twice to take over from Owen Heary.

Long at Bohs' launch in Dublin yesterday.
Long at Bohs' launch in Dublin yesterday.
Image: Clive O'Donohoe/INPHO

IT’S A CASE OF evolution not revolution for Bohemian’s new manager Keith Long in his first season at Dalymount Park.

The 40-year-old, who enjoyed spells with Dundalk, St Patrick’s Athletic and Bray Wanderers as a player, was brought in to replace Sligo-bound Owen Heary at the end of last season after less than a year in charge of Athlone Town.

Before departing, Heary succeeded in steadying the ship after they had narrowly avoided the drop in 2013. As well as a seventh-place finish in the table, the North Dublin club also reached the last eight of the FAI Cup and a Setenta Cup semi-final.

Speaking at the launch of their new away kit yesterday, Long said the offer to take charge of the club was too good to turn down and before explaining that he will look for “continuity” within the dressing room.

“When a club like Bohemian Football Club come knocking on your door, you don’t have to be asked twice, he told The42. It was a no-brainer for me to take this job. It’s a big club and a great challenge so from that point of view it’s a massive honour to be manager.

My predecessor Owen (Heary) did a really good job last year. He stabilised the club and got them to a reasonable position in the table so it was important coming in that there was continuity in terms of the backroom staff.”

With Eoin Wearen, Steven Beattie, Kevin Devaney and Dinny Corcoran all following Heary to Sligo, the new Bohs boss has had some recruiting to do.

He raided former club Athlone for Derek Prendergast, James O’Brien Kealan Dillon and Dylan Hayes, while strikers Dean Kelly and Marc Griffin arrived from Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk respectively.

Defender Lorcan Fitzgerald joins from St Patrick’s Athletic and ex-UCD midfielder Robbie Creevy has also signed up.

“I think the balance of the squad is quite good between some of the more experienced players and some of the younger comes coming through,” Long added. “We don’t have huge money to throw around but at the same time there is still good value out there.

“Dean Kelly is coming in and he has always scored goals when he plays. We brought in Marc Griffin from Dundalk — he didn’t have a huge amount of game-time last year with the champions. He has a point to prove and I believe if Marc plays games and is given the freedom to express himself then he will get goals for us also.

“We have Jason Byrne who has been a top goalscorer in the League of Ireland over the last number of years. Young Adam Nevin is also coming back from the UK so we believe we are well-served and we’ve got goals in the team.

It’s not only the strikers, we’re looking for players in all areas of the pitch to chip in with goals.

“While we’ve lost some goals we feel we have replaced them and we have the next six weeks to get ourselves right in pre-season and when the season starts I’m sure we’ll be ready.”

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Jason Byrne, Derek Pender and Keith Long Long with Jason Byrne and Derek Pender. Source: Clive O'Donohoe/INPHO

The Gypsies, celebrating their 125th anniversary this year, are away to Limerick at the recently-developed Markets Field in the opening round of fixtures on 7 March before hosting newly-promoted Galway United the following Friday.

And Long insists his players will not be lacking when the season kicks off in six weeks’ time.

“We want to finish as high as we possibly can in the league. Any run in the cup can be good for the club. They had a good run in the EA Sports Cup and the FAI Cup last season so it’s important that we try and improve upon it.

“Our lads will be fit, they will be organised and they will be hungry. They will want to be successful and put on performances that the fans will be proud of and that is all we can guarantee.”

Mr Green, the award-winning online casino, has renewed its successful sponsorship of Bohemian FC, as the club celebrates its 125th anniversary this year.  Visit mrgreen.com and get your game on this season.

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Ben Blake

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